September 6, 1952
"Circle C" to vanish from Germany
Last Units of Elite U.
Constabulary Forces Will Be Deactivated
This Month After 6 Years of Standing Guard Over A Disorganized Country
By Robert Strand
When the last units of the United States Constabulary, one of the most
colorful commands in Army history, is deactivated this month, its
from the German scene will mark the end of an era.
The border patrol duty of its two remaining units, the 15th Squadron at Welden and the 24th Squadron at Bad Hersfeld, will be assumed by tree armored cavalry regiments. The "Circle C" patches and colorful uniform accessories marking the crackconstabulary Forces will be only memories.
Organized in 1946, the Constabulary functioned as a fast, hard-hitting police force providing protection for a disorganized Germany. It controlled displaced persons over which Germans had no authority, watched borders and frequently was involved in dramatic raids breaking up black-market and smuggling operations. It also served as a mobile striking force giving military protection to the German zone.
Now that the signing of the contractual agreement with Germany is at hand, the United States Army will abandon most police duties. The Constabulary has continually encouraged German authorities to assume more of their own police functions.
For more than six years, however, striped helmets with "Circle C" patches on front, Sam Browne Belts, yellow leather shoelaces, yellow scarves, yellow gloves and Thompson Sub-Machine Guns commanded instant respect. Germans named the force the "Blitz Polizei," or lightning police, as they dashed over the 40,000 - square - mile area of the American Zone in brightly decorated armored cars and tanks.
Constabulary troopers not only sped to trouble spots in columns of speeding armored equipment, but used horses as well, especially in the rugged terrain along some borders. Horse units were broken up in 1951.
Although the troopers were primarily concerned with police work, they were equipped and trained to fight a delaying action against invading forces almost from the force's inception. Frequent alerts kept them prepared.
From 1947 to 1950 there were only tow major American forces in the zone, the 1st Infantry Division and the Constabulary Forces. They constituted America's only defense against attack in the area. Competition between these two groups was keen and they frequently matched abilities in maneuvers and on the athletic field.
The Constabulary was organized by Maj. Gen. Ernest Harmon, war-time commander of the 1st and 2nd Armored Divisions and a leader in the Ardennes campaign. He designed the shoulder patch, combining the gold of the cavalry as background color, the blue of the infantry and a central blue "C" crossed with a lightning bolt of artillery red. Motto of the command was "Mobility, Vigilance, Justice."
Constabulary headquarters were located at Bamberg, Bavaria. The
included three brigades, nine regiments and 27 line squadrons, all
cavalry. Later, headquarters were moved to Heidelberg.
Soldiers assigned to the units were picked men, screened by special boards. They included battle trained veterans of the 3rd and 7th Armies who were trained at a school at Sonthofen which emphasized high standards of personal appearance and taught geography, German history, theory and practice of investigation, police records, self-defense and apprehension of wanted persons.
It was the Constabulary that organized the present tank training center at Vilseck, now operated by the 7th Army, and the Non-Commissioned Officers' Academy at Munich, which also has been taken over by the 7th Army.
Gen. Harmon was succeeded in 1947 by Maj. Gen. Withers A. Buress, present 7th Corps commander. He began building up the military potential of the Constabulary, since some of the police missions were dropped that spring. As the German police, organized by military government, gained strength, they assumed border control of civilian traffic and more local security work.
The forth and last "top trooper" was Maj. Gen. I. D. White, who succeeded Maj. Gen. Louis Craig in 1948 after Gen. Craig had commanded for less than a month before becoming Inspector General of the Army. It was while he headed the organization that the Constabulary changed from a fast, light armored command to a thick-skinned armored force.
It was built around three strong armored tank forces, including artillery to reinforce infantry and service units. The organization was kept flexible and mobile although many of its police missions had been dropped.
When the 7th Army was reactivated in 1950, Constabulary Headquarters, then at Stuttgart, provided a nucleus of officers and men for the new unit. Most Constabulary units then adopted the "pyramid A" patch of the 7th Army. These later were assigned to 5th and 7th Corps.
Throughout this period, the Constabulary Forces maintained extraordinarily high morale. Its men were proud to be troopers. Replacements from the United States came in small numbers, but re-enlistments rates in the Constabulary were often unusually high. Recruiting quotas gave credit for voluntary extension and enlistment even when a man was not due to leave. Under these provisions, quotas were over-subscribed by 500 to 600 percent. Some battalions had 1,000 to 1,500 percent of their quotas.
High morale also was reflected in assistance to the German Youth Activities Program, which was designed to help teach young people to think for themselves. Almost all units assumed responsibility for aiding local programs for youth.
Troopers were quick to participate in local welfare work of all kinds. The 2th Squadron, on of the two now being deactivated, has raised $40,000 in the last year by donations and money-making efforts for aid to worthy projects in its community.
The Constabulary, which never saw its homeland, has now completed its missions, but it will always have claim to be ranked among the elite organizations in American Military History.
The Constabulary's tasks were not the kinds which soldiers enjoy doing; Police work is not glamorous, especially to men who never planned to be policemen. Nonetheless, the Constabulary, beset with personnel problems as it was, performed its duties well -- so well, in fact, that it has been easy to forget its contributions to the peace and safety of twenty million people. This contribution should not be forgotten, General Harmon, wiring in early 1948 to the commander of the Constabulary School, expressed a prophetic and accurate evaluation of the United States Constabulary:
"It is my opinion that as time goes on, you will see the Constabulary gradually fade out of the picture and be turned back into back into some combat unit, possibly an armored division, and the police of the zone completely turned over to the Germans. When that times comes, we will have to look upon the Constabulary as a brief interlude when a special force was developed for a certain definite purpose which had a great effect on establishing law and order in the zone and the revision of standards of discipline and appearance of American troops in Germany."